Tuesday, May 5, 2015

what the NICU did for our family

After our baby boy left the hospital and was transported to the NICU at another hospital (about 20 minutes away), my single driving focus became getting discharged so I could go see him. Within an hour of his departure, I stood up out of my hospital bed despite the excruciating pain from my C-section incision. I had my catheter removed and peed on my own. 

The next day, my husband, his mom and my mom all took shifts in the NICU with Mav. I wanted someone to be with him at all times since I couldn’t be. I didn’t want him to ever feel alone. My best friend came to visit so I wouldn’t be alone. She lifted my spirits and walked with me around the hospital grounds. I was trying to get more stable on my feet to make sure I was capable of being released from the hospital as soon as possible. I also had my IV removed. 

The following morning, I was discharged. Probably earlier than I should have been as I was in a lot of pain. But the emotional pain of worrying about my baby’s health and not being with him was worse. My mom picked me up and took me straight to the children’s hospital to visit Mav. He seemed to be in good hands as his daddy hardly left his side the entire time. 

But I felt lost and disconnected. I didn’t know how to take care of my baby. My husband had to show me how to change his diaper. He showed me how to feed him (the nurses fed him similac in the NICU) and swaddle him. I felt like a failure as a mother. How is it that the person who is supposed to be there in his first days of life doesn’t know anything about how to take care of him? Not to mention, I wasn’t there when any of the specialists came to evaluate our son so it wasn’t clear what his condition was and when he’d be discharged. My heart was filled with worry and sadness. 

The NICU nurse could see that I was struggling – physically (from the surgery I’d just undergone) and emotionally. She did the kindest thing possible…she helped me stay close to my son. Since we live more than 30 miles from the hospital, she called the Ronald McDonald House located a block from the hospital and got us a room. I can’t tell you what a relief this was. Especially since I could barely ride in the car – every bump was so painful. It was a challenge for me to walk or sit up. Not to mention the stairs at our house that I’d have to climb up and down every time I wanted to come see our son at the hospital. It would’ve been impossible. 

The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) was amazing! There is nothing more stressful than having your child in the NICU. This organization is such a blessing to families that live farther away and want to visit their baby often. I’m so grateful that I got to experience this non-profit (which is completely volunteer run). I’ll be finding a way to give back to the RMH in the future. 

Thankfully Mav wasn’t in the NICU for too much longer. When he was discharged, it was such a relief to be heading home with our family intact. I’m so grateful that his breathing and eating issues improved enough to come home. He is still struggling with eating and breathing even a month later but we just have to take things day by day. 

Although the NICU experience is something that no parent wants to go through, there is always a silver lining. For us, it was that my husband became front and center in our son’s first days. He was the primary caregiver. Although it hurt at first, it really was a good thing. I’m super type-A and afraid that if circumstances were different…. I would have micromanaged my husband’s interactions with our son and they wouldn’t have formed such a strong early bond. I also think the circumstances made A more hands-on with Maverick because he had to be. He became comfortable caring for our baby in way that might not have happened otherwise. For that I am grateful.

Donning my lovely modmum hospital gown on discharge day
since I didn't get to wear it to give birth.

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